Wednesday Talking Points
8 April, 2009
Force India releases Liuzzi for A1 debut
Force India test and reserve driver Vitantonio (Tonio) Liuzzi has signed to race for the Italian team in the open wheeler championship A1GP.
The 27-year-old’s debut in the series will take place this weekend in Portugal. The next round in the UK does not clash with the F1 calendar, but the May 24 finale in Mexico takes place on the same weekend as the Monaco grand prix.
With the ever-tightening restrictions on track testing in formula one, Liuzzi said he is “really looking forward” to returning to racing. “Racing is the thing I like to do most,” he said. “I am pleased that Vijay Mallya and Force India agreed to release me for these races so I can feel the adrenalin of a race atmosphere again.”
A1 Team Italy would not confirm if Liuzzi will be available to race in Mexico. Liuzzi has contested 39 grands prix, most recently for Toro Rosso in 2007.
KERS not to blame for McLaren’s struggles
A cursory assessment tells another tale, but KERS is not responsible for the struggles of some formula one teams this season, Pedro de la Rosa insists.
At the opening two races of 2009, only seven cars used the voluntary energy recovery technology, while fully non-KERS teams including Brawn, Toyota and Williams excelled.
Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen grappled with his malfunctioning KERS unit throughout the Sepang weekend, and Fernando Alonso believes Renault should reconsider its deployment of the heavy technology prior to China. But McLaren test driver de la Rosa told Spain’s Marca newspaper: “Our problems are in other areas, not KERS. If it was just a matter of getting rid of it and going faster, we would have done that already.”
“We are not using it for commercial reasons or anything like that, it is simply that it makes us faster. The balance of the car is almost identical with or without (KERS). It does not harm us,” de la Rosa insisted.
It is also true that, while assessing the wisdom of deploying KERS, Alonso burst up the grid from ninth to third at the start in Malaysia. Williams is fine-tuning an unique flywheel-based KERS system, and technical director Sam Michael said: “We want it on our car as soon as possible.”
Trulli reveals Abruzzo earthquake ‘shock’
Jarno Trulli has revealed his ‘shock’ to hear about the devastating earthquake in his native region of Italy.
The 6.3-magnitude quake struck the central Abruzzo region on Monday, about the same time that the Toyota driver was aboard a plane bound for Frankfurt from Kuala Lumpur.
At least 150 people were killed in the worst Italian quake in 30 years, many are still trapped under rubble, and up to 100,000 people homeless. “As soon as I landed in Frankfurt I received a call from my mother who told me about the tragedy,” Trulli, who was born in the Abruzzo region, told Corriere dello Sport. “I am shocked, but selfishly I can say that my family is far from the epicentre,” he added.
Rosberg and Heidfeld also unwell in Malaysia
Fernando Alonso was not the only formula one driver grappling with less than perfect health in Malaysia last weekend.
Many regular pundits were surprised at Sepang, when the Spaniard openly admitted he would face the official Malaysian action at substandard fitness with an ear infection.
Indeed, the other two drivers struggling with minor ailments at the event kept quiet, perhaps for fear of attracting the attention of the FIA, or not wanting to admit to their rivals a weakness on the eve of battle.
Throughout the Malaysia weekend, Williams’ Nico Rosberg felt “quite ill” with a cold or ‘flu, he now reveals. The German said the complaint is “typical” of the Sepang race. “We’re always going into and out of air conditioning because of the heat, and it’s only so long before your body cries ‘enough’,” Rosberg said.
It also emerged that Nick Heidfeld struggled through the weekend with an unidentified virus.